For those who think Chick-Fil-A day was a win for the haters…

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012   Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter

…here’s another view.

Yesterday, we saw who we’re fighting against. Yesterday, we took another little step toward equality by better understanding who’s standing in our way.

We saw the huge lines, stretched out blocks long, of the people who we’ve never heard on the airwaves. We saw the people whose worldviews are represented by people like Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown and Tony Perkins. We saw the people who are the friends and neighbors and co-workers of LGBT people but have never openly voiced their opinions that we are “less than” them.

We finally saw what the LGBT industrial complex has been trying to sweep under the rug for decades. We saw the “normal” people who live across this country, quietly, in homes and churches stretching from Maine to California — not just in the South, and not just in rural places. We saw lines in Washington, DC, and Chicago and Los Angeles. We saw hatred and/or ignorance, wrapped in prayer and chicken sandwiches. And it looked totally normal.

Maggie and Brian and Tony and so many others have made a living off of oppressing the LGBT community. They make good paychecks, they go on TV constantly, they publish books, and they speak at conferences. But our LGBT organizations have tried to convince us that these folks represent a minority view — that they’re superfluous and heading toward extinction. And the anti-LGBT industry is more than happy to comply with that illusion. But it’s simply not true.

In fact, these folks live all around us — but they remain silent and simply go about their lives until they’re forced into a corner and forced to take a stand. This is evidenced by the recent publication of the names of everyone who signed a petition to revoke the legislatively-approved right to marry in Maryland. There are people on that list who live in my town. There are people on that list who I see at the grocery store. There are people on that list whose door I will be knocking on soon to ask them why they’re voting against my equality.

For all those who have been lamenting the fact that we “lost” yesterday (and, yes, we absolutely lost the media narrative, letting well-meaning mayors destroy the organizing moment by allowing this to become about First Amendment rights), I’d beg you to reconsider. I think we won something. And I think we won something because we finally came face-to-face with the people who are voting to take away our rights — not the people like Maggie and Brian who are paid to hate us, but the people in our PTAs and our neighborhood cookouts and our faith communities who simply think we’re not equal to them.

These are the people who are voting against us. These are the people who are standing in the way of our full equality. And these are the people who we MUST challenge through direct action and civil disobedience to reconsider their views — for whom we must disrupt the day-to-day grind.

These are the people we’re being distracted from by the likes of the “professional haters.” ¬†They’ve lined up at food courts and drive-thru’s and chicken counters across the country to fill their bellies with intolerance, and to do so proudly and unapologetically. You now know who they are. So what are you going to do about it?

We’ve launched a new campaign — called “Fight for the 14th!” — that is asking LGBT folks and our allies to organize and take action in their local communities in order to make very clear what’s at stake here. It’s not marriage. And it’s not the freedom of speech. I welcome and defend Dan Cathy’s right to say whatever bigoted and ignorant things he wants — but I’ll fight like hell to ensure that the country knows that his words have consequences and that his corporate donations are fueling youth suicide, workplace discrimination, the separation of families, and the violation of Constitutional rights to equal protection under the law.

Right this minute (Thursday afternoon), two men in Dallas are refusing to leave a marriage counter until they’re granted a marriage license or they’re arrested…and this is on the same day of their hearing for doing the same thing a month ago. Today, couples (gay and straight) went to marriage counters in Tampa and Columbus and Albuquerque to demand that LGBT couples have access to the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution. In the following days, more people across the country will join them — at marriage counters, at immigration offices, at employment lines, and everywhere else that LGBT Americans face discriminatory laws. Momentum is on our side, but only if we choose to stand up, fight back, and make this about¬†far more than chicken sandwiches.

Wins don’t always feel good — but it’s up to us to ensure that we don’t get so distracted by the depression and heartbreak that we lose the opportunity to talk with all those people buying chicken sandwiches, and to show them that we’re their neighbors and their co-workers…and that we’re serious about getting equal.

- Heather Cronk, Managing Director

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